She walked forwards, hoping that her information was correct. She’d never done anything like this before, but with the weirdness happening at her school, Miskatonic Academic Institute of Learning. Or as the kids at this party would say, the rich frakkers. Well, if they’d even heard of that term. She’d picked it up from her friend Holly, who had picked it up from… somewhere. Maybe from Leigh, who was always butchering words together to sound elegantly eloquent.

Ginger Kurtwood – Ginny to everyone who knew her – stalked the dancing throngs of people. She noticed one or two middle-aged people, but this was an underground party, legally and literally, so there were all manner of ages here. But mostly young. And since it was Halloween night, full of costumes and Gothic partiers. Ginny herself had a Gothic Japanese schoolgirl outfit on, black with white shirt and lace edging, blazer with large rounded lapels, embroidered crest on her black tie. She pushed forwards, black laced hands parting the crowds, long legs striding her forwards, the black buckled leather boots adding more inches of height to her. Her normally vivid red hair and eyebrows were raven black for the night, her hair down instead of twisted up as usual. The music was noisy, pulse-pounding; the lighting epileptic rainbows beaming themselves about. She closed her eyes, and after a moment, she saw things a little differently. She could see exactly who – what – to go for. She smirked. She didn’t know what she had seen, but it wasn’t human. And it was now about to greet death…

“Hey, fancy getting me a drink?” she asked casually, hoping that she looked old enough. Granted, there were bound to be a number of under-age there, but she needed to be led away, and she didn’t know if age could serve as bait… the pale blonde guy looked her up and down, and smiled. She smiled back, her nerves slipping through. She had no idea how to chat a guy up, and now, she needed this creature to lead her away, so she could quietly dispatch him… He whispered in her ear, and Ginny waited, nerves breeding impatience. She hated the old cellars the city had re-discovered under the main street of the old shopping area. The stonework reminded her of mausoleums.

He returned, they chatted as they sipped at the weird coloured cocktails he had provided. Ginny was ready for the alcohol, making sure it wouldn’t affect her, not tonight at least. He offered a cigarette, and she faked eagerness, pulling out a lighter and started sucking, making the end glow and smoke. She exhaled effortlessly, mimicking all the moves she had seen Leigh do over the years. With effort, she smoked it, making sure it seemed to burn down. A small, simple trick, one that was luring him into false security.

The talking continued; she saying she was born and bred a Providencer, him from out of town. He commented on how well spoken she was, how clear and moneyed her accent was. She faked the bored rich girl persona her friend Felicia often displayed. After a lot of flirting and socialising – all mimicry of her friends in action – Ginny found herself led away. Finally, she thought, we can get to slay him. She’d taken the oaths, she’d made the vows. Now was the time to fulfil them. She quietly put the cigarette, unlit and unused, into the pocket where she pulled out a lighter.

She strode forwards, the boots making her a full head taller than him. She kept glancing about, looking to see if she could spot any others like him. She chided herself on her lack of knowledge; then again, since the demise of the secret order she had been recruited into, Ginny couldn’t risk drawing attention to herself. She had been lucky to escape the Purge; she hadn’t been Initiated, and had been by her dying grandmother’s side, when the Thorns of Lovecraft had their memories and… skills hollowed out of them. In a matter of hours, the society HP Lovecraft had set up in her school had been erased. The pain of seeing the older students, her mentor… not remembering, reduced… something had snapped in Ginny, and combined with seeing the one person in her family that had cared about her, loved her dying… she had never been able to cry since. Her emotions were gone, filled with the need to deliver payback to the Darkness that had stolen them from her.

Tonight, she would avenge them.

Her sight picked out a couple of auras that were like the creature luring her away, and then a couple more. She noticed that her prey had just slipped his phone into his jacket’s pocket. The others were moving ahead faster, clearly to entrap her. She thought quickly. Then smirked. With full concentration, she slowed down slightly. Now, anyone watching would see she was right behind the creature still. Just like him seeing her smoke. Ginny was very, very good at making glamours. She hung back, watching him take her copy down a passageway, then another, then another, until the throbbing, pulsing of the music had ebbed. It opened up into a chamber, and she could see others hiding behind some of the pillars that propped up the ceiling. Faintly, she could hear the thrumming of traffic above. She willed the glamour to keep following, whilst she invisibly held back. With inhuman deftness, the other four encircled the glamour, trapping it. Ginny stared at the floor around them, willing out another spell. As they tried to rush her, they found the glamour vanishing, and their feet sticking fast. With a smirk, she pulled out her wand from a blazer pocket, and took a couple of steps forwards-

And found her legs suddenly paralysed.

The creatures twisted round, sensing where their quarry was. Ginny’s face wore a mask of fierce determination, her holly and black deer antler wand pointing at them. Then there was a blur, and something was attacking the male and female human-like creatures, crunching leg bones causing howls of agony as they found themselves crippled, unable to collapse to the floor, thanks to her spell. Ginny felt vomit threatening to spew out her throat, fear pounding her heart like a thousand frantic, frenetic war drums, her mind momentarily paralysed by blind panic.

But only for a moment.

She looked down, trying to see why she couldn’t move forwards. Crystals. Five crystals had been placed – somehow – around her feet. She could still move her feet up, but not forwards or backwards. With intense concentration, she knelt down, and then jumped up as hard as she could. She felt herself levitate, the sudden upward force making her stomach lurch again. She seriously fought the urge to vomit as she used her fingers to more herself along the ceiling, desperately trying to keep her mind calm and focussed, blocking out the sounds of tearing flesh, screams of pain and rage, of something feasting on the creatures… she pushed herself down, and harmlessly reached the floor, when she ran as hard and fast as she possibly could. She turned and turned again, getting back to the party.

She scanned hurriedly about, noting that everyone was human. She quickly cast a glamour, pouring into it as much of her magical reserves as she could dare to. After some chanting, and concentrating, the archway she had just come through had turned into a wall. Some of the people near her stared, curious, then clapped as they thought it a party trick. Wide eyes darting about, Ginny took a bow, then pushed her way forwards. The glamour should hold for a day or so. She glanced back, relieved breathing as she saw the drunken revellers touching it, feeling every bit like a solid wall. Which was the idea. It had given her a headache doing it, but she had years of practice, and knew how to produce something as complicated as that.

“Impressive trick, my little witch,” said a voice behind her. She spun round, face to face with the eyes of the supernatural being that wiped out the five in the corridor. She stepped back in fear, glancing about the place. It was too public to try to stop him… he looked at her, and smiled. With insane deftness, he snatched her wand out of her hand, and it fell to the floor, an electric shock numbing his hand. He regarded it with intense interest.

“So… you are one of Howard’s pupils. How is the old devil?” Ginny looked at him, eyes wide with blank shock, and then rushed to the floor to pick up her wand. When she stood up, he was gone.

“I had heard that the order he founded had been eliminated. But here you are, stalking lessers. Pitifully, to be honest.” Ginny spun round, and saw nothing again.

“Who are you?” she demanded, drawing strange looks from those nearby. She looked away, chastened.

“A dear enemy of Howard and Abraham. Though, I doubt you would know who Abraham was. He died many a year ago,” he lamented. Ginny spun round, and was dragged towards a corner, where a makeshift table had been set up. She decided against fighting; she couldn’t risking innocent people. Her duty was to protect them, even if it was with her death.

That was the Thorns way.

He made her sit down, and undid her collar, loosening her tie. Forcefully tilting her head back, she whimpered, ready for what she guessed was next.

“Why kill them? Those monsters?” She asked timidly. He chuckled.

“I was hungry. When you live as long as I, humans do not satisfy as much. Besides… they were crass. Inferior to what had been gifted them.” His teeth sank into her throat before she could react.

Two sharp, hot slices of pain were instantly replaced with searing pleasure. Images flashed through her head, her life, focussing on three owls, staring down from a tree. He withdrew immediately. Her hand to her neck.

“Interesting… another has marked you,” he remarked. He smiled curiously.

“I’m not their daughter,” she protested.

“Until next time,” he said, before leaving at the table, and to the far exit.


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